• Day 64. 1 Thessalonians 4-5 
  • Day 65. 2 Thessalonians 1-3 
  • Day 66. 1 Timothy 1-3 
  • Day 67. 1 Timothy 4-6 
  • Day 68. 2 Timothy 1-4 
  • Day 69. Titus 1-3
  • Day 70. Philemon

Devotion

What makes a good leader? Is it their looks? Their charisma? Filled with confidence? Incredibly ambitious? Great communicator? Proficiency in multiple skills? Or perhaps their self-sufficiency and independence? 

In any case, good leaders are always in demand in any organisation. People are like sheep that need a shepherd, and without a figure who can create direction and lead them on the right path, they will be left defenseless, directionless and perhaps even left to die!

Tim Challies recounts a real story in July 2005 that demonstrates the reason sheep need a good shepherd:

Hundreds of sheep followed their leader off a cliff in eastern Turkey, plunging to their deaths this week while shepherds looked on in dismay. Four hundred sheep fell 15 metres to their deaths in a ravine in Van province near Iran but broke the fall of another 1,100 animals who survived. Shepherds from a nearby village neglected the flock while eating breakfast, leaving the sheep to roam free.” [1]

The negligence of these shepherds led to a costly misfortune, losing an estimated $74000 in agricultural property. This story, in many ways, recapitulates the reason why people need good leaders. We see this most evidently in the book of Titus that there was so ever a need for solid leadership for a newly-planted church that was vulnerable to the snares of false teaching. The apostle Paul was all too aware of the destructive consequences that heretical teaching brings to the redeemed soul. If the situation was left in its current state, the Cretan believers would have blindly followed the detestable teachings and therefore forfeit the gift of salvation received by grace alone through faith alone. 

To defend against the theological epidemic, Paul advises Titus to “appoint elders in every town as [he] directed [him]” (Titus 1:5). He provides the distinctive marks of proper leadership that he must look for in particular individuals in his church (1:5-9), to properly handle heresy (1:10-16; 3:9-11), and guidelines for proper Christian living (2:1-10; 3:1-2). But in particular, I want to draw our attention  to the list of moral and social virtues for spiritual leadership that must manifest in those who are appointed to lead and govern the church.

What is fascinating to note immediately upon reading the list of qualifications in verses 6-9 is that the importance for leaders to exhibit godly character qualities far exceeds the possession of natural qualities that the world might expect their leaders to have. Being able to ‘give instruction in sound doctrine’ (in other words, teaching the word) is the only qualification Paul demands of prospective leaders that is somewhat unrelated to the whole idea of moral character. Now that isn’t to say that it isn’t important to learn how to communicate clearly, to possess the ability to inspire others to follow you or to be gifted in multiple areas in ministry – for you often find that spiritual leadership can often have a mix of both natural and spiritual qualities.

Yet Paul doesn’t emphasize personality, proficiencies or other natural qualities as prerequisites for those who are chosen to lead God’s people. This shifts everything about what we should look for in a leader, for better or worse. 

Worse, because we begin to recognise that no one can become this kind of leader by their own sheer willpower and intellectual capacity. We have all fallen short of the incredibly high moral standards that are demanded of this role. This type of leader is one that is appointed not by men, for only God can make and appoint these kinds of leaders by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

But this ultimately is for the better and for our good, because God does not appoint leaders based on their giftedness and personality, which is so relieving and refreshing. He uses broken vessels to do His kingdom-building work. So whether you have difficulty in public speaking, or whether you are lacking in charisma and confidence, you can be used for God and you can be used well for His glory, and glory alone.    

I’m conscious that those of you who are reading this devotion are serving self-sacrificially in roles and positions that entail some degree of leadership. No matter the scope to which your leadership extends in your field of ministry, may we all strive to exercise godliness and spiritual maturity and exhibit these traits as of the highest importance for the sake of our flock and for sake of God’s glory. 

Reflection Questions

1. What is the relationship between doctrinal truth and godliness?
2. What is the role of leadership?
3. What is distinctly different between worldly leadership and spiritual leadership?
4. Which qualifications of spiritual leadership have encouraged you to continue working on?

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

We thank you that you have placed godly leaders in our congregations who have cared and nurtured us and have led us to continue walking on the narrow path to light. We recognise that those whom you have called to lead your people in this way are called to a tremendously heavy burden in modelling how to live Christ-centred lives that honour you and bring you glory in everything they do. Father, may you pour your sanctifying grace upon the hearts of our leaders, that they may continue to grow in their godliness, as they lead us, guide us, and teach us your righteous ways. Give them peace in their hearts and minds that you are always with them by your Spirit. We ask this, in your Son’s precious name. Amen.

[1] – Tim Challies. (2013, August 26). Dumb, Directionless, Defenseless. Retrieved from https://www.challies.com/christian-living/dumb-directionless-defenseless/

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